Monday 2 November 2009

Mist in the mirror (Hill)

I wanted to read The woman in black for a Halloween read over the weekend; and Fiona from Vintage kindly offered to send me a copy. Unfortunately despite being sent over three weeks ago, it somehow seems to have been mislaid in the post, and the replacement copy won't be here until next week.

I was still keen to read some sort of ghost story, preferably something reasonably modern but I don't know very much about modern ghost story writers, so when I went to the library to get something else, I looked for another Susan Hill. I ended up taking out The mist in the mirror which sounded from the blurb as if it would be a classic ghost story.

I was not disappointed: the settings, Edwardian London and the Yorkshire moors were wonderfully gothic and Hill managed to slowly unravel a mystery which was both gripping and chilling. The book is about the story of Sir James Monmouth, who returns home to England after many years spent travelling abroad. He is on the trail (despite warnings not to) of an explorer named Conrad Vale who he wants to know more about. But Sir James is plagued by ghostly and strange events and happenings; he appears to be followed by a little boy, perpetually sobbing; he keeps seeing an old woman behind the curtain. Yet no-one else can witness these things.

I should really have read this book at night for the full effect, rather than sitting in the flourescent light of the staff room at work on Saturday, as I think that would have made the experience more chilling. My own caveat with the book was that I found that there were quite a lot of loose ends which didn't get tied up which I found ultimately spoiled the book for me; there were a number of ghostly occurrences to which there was no resolution which I thought was a shame; the book is a compact 184p. and it would certainly not have been excessive to write another 50p. or so to wrap it all up properly.

I am still looking forward to reading The woman in black which is supposed to be one of her best works, but I am also wondering about reading some other modern ghost story writers as it's that time of year. Can anyone recommend any?


  1. Alice Thomas Ellis - not always ghost stories but dark and creepy. Totally recommend her:)

  2. Have you read The Seance by John Harwood? That is a good ghost story. I have a copy of Mist in the Mirror, but haven't read any Hill yet. I was wondering whether to read it first or not. I think I might after reading your review - thank you!

  3. I've finally got my copy of The woman in Black and will be reading that this week. I can then let you know which one might be best to start with Jackie!

    Thanks for the recommendations too both of you.

  4. This sounds good, I read The Woman in Black last year and really enjoyed it.

  5. That sounds so creepy. I've never read Susan Hill. This might be a good place to start.

  6. Susan Hill's The Man in the Picture is also very good. I havent read this one yet but its within my eye line as I type and I might just have to go for it!

    I hope you enjoy the Woman in Black... I have a ridiculous seven parcels that have gone missing in the post! Unbelieveable!

  7. Mrs B - it was creepy, and I hope Woman in black will also be creepy.

    Simon - SEVEN parcels - goodness! I would be so cross. At least mine was just a free book and I snuck in another read instead.

  8. I just read A Dark Dividing by Sarah Rayne-it was pretty creepy. :D


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